When not working with clients, The Practical Sort has been out and about meeting the most fascinating people. Occasionally when I come across women-owned businesses offering complementary services that I believe could benefit my clients in some way, they will be featured in "Practical Perspectives/Simple Solutions." Feel free to drop me a note at email@example.com to let me know if you find this series helpful. Let's see who is on deck this month. This interview occurred as we were closing out 2018.
About a year ago or so, I met Cindy Gunraj of Stillness Blooms. She immediately enchanted me with her presence, her listening skills, and her ability to make me feel at ease. She is thorough, competent, and an astute practitioner and entrepreneur. Cindy is a professional speaker, teacher, and coach who specializes in helping professionals to authentically own their own voice. Her work guides individuals to access their voices fully and anchor their communications within the intelligence of their hearts. She works with organizations & professional groups focused on women empowerment and Diversity and Inclusion.
She’s a graduate of Goucher College, a 2-year conservartory trained actor from William Esper Studio in NYC and a certified Divorce Coach. She's spoken at HP, United Nations, and Dress for Success World Wide. Her most recent event was at the Women’s Center for Leadership.
The following dialogue was extracted from the Practical Perspectives/Simple Solutions Podcast transcript recorded on December 18, 2018 with Cindy Gunraj of Stillness Blooms.
The Practical Sort (PS):
Cindy, when we met for some coffee a few days ago , we had talked about we are about to transition into a new year. You brought a cool idea of getting rid of head trash in 2019. I love that approach because my clients not only struggle with the physical stuff in their space, they have a lot of stuff going on in their heads. Can you talk a little more about what you meant about ditching the head trash in 2019?
Stillness Blooms (SB): Yes, Absolutely. You know head trash came to me when I got really aware of the stories lurking in my head. Being a life coach, and being in the business of transition, I had to spend a lot of time on self-inquiry and my stories, aka my gremlins. “You are not trying hard enough!” “You are not pretty!” What we see on the outside may not be what is represented on the inside. That is what I learned. That is what I mean by head trash. It’s those limited beliefs. For me, it started way back in childhood being around family, people who beat themselves up, being really hard on themselves. Self worth was really low. Being a child in that environment, I absorbed that.
PS: How did you first become aware that this thought pattern was holding you back.
SB: Parts were trying to come thru in my adult years. I’m 39, it is an exciting time, and I am learning more about myself. And, it wasn’t until my divorce when I saw all the negative play within me. Putting myself down and thinking I am not doing enough, not trying hard enough. That thought pattern came out into my behavior. It kept me stuck.
PS: So you needed to clean house. You needed to clear out all of that stuff for your head to clear and be able to move forward. Take us through the process how did you go from recognizing that you needed to make the change to actually doing it? What was that first step like and take us through the journey.
SB: I think it is coming to a realization that you are finished with suffering. It had gotten to the point where I was so motivated to stop suffering, that I was ready and open to learning, trying, doing anything differently. That was the first part, wanting to end suffering. For me that is what helped. It takes a lot of courage to say “I am going to stop this and do something different”.
PS: Did you do it on your own or did someone guide you?
SB: It was a series of events that took place but the first step started with me. An incident happened where I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I listened to my inner voice, my whispers, an idea I promote through my company, Stillness Blooms, “be brave and listen to the whispers of your heart”. My whispers came in and said, “Cindy how much more of this are you going to take?” And that was the lightbulb moment. So it started with me. Then obviously to make such a huge transition, I am speaking of leaving my marriage, I not only got myself an action plan, I got myself into situations where people could help me move forward both personally and professionally.
PS: I can see the parallels between your personal journey, and what I imagine it is like when clients are reaching out to you. It usually comes to a head when someone finally reaches out and says to me “hey, I really need your help.” Or “I have tried doing this before, I have tried working with friends or an organizer in the past and it never worked.” There is usually that defining moment that happens when they say “hey, I need you.” Do you find that with your clients?
SB: It is that willingness that they want to change. They have tried everything else and it has not worked. So when people come to seek me or ask me for some service I know that space they are in. It is a very delicate time. It is a time that is a game changer.
PS: I imagine you need to gain some trust in your relationship just like I do because we are dealing with some really intimate stuff. You are dealing with the emotional side, I am dealing with the physical. But face it, we open up drawers, we see some things that might stoke some embarrassment, bring up memories from the past that may not have been pleasant. How do you go about building that relationship of trust so that they feel at home with you, so they feel comfortable to open up?
SB: That’s a great question. It really depends on where the person is at. Because when folks come to me the whole goal for me is to figure out why are they coming to me and if and how I can help them. So there will be times where they are not looking for coaching help. They are looking for a psychologist. They are looking for a divorce lawyer. It depends where they are at. Then if I can help them, we are a good match, and there is a readiness, then the relationship is more of a partnership and it naturally unfolds with them trusting little by little. Then my job is to hold up a mirror to reflect back to them what is happening little by little, inch by inch.
PS: I am so glad you brought up the point that Stillness Blooms and you are coaching, you are not in a therapy role. Honestly, I find that a lot of times I bump up against that with my own clients because sometimes they are looking to me in a counseling role. At that point I have to stop the process and say that the situation is beyond my scope. I have people I can refer you to. In just a few words, can you describe what that difference is between a coach vs. a therapist and at what point do you draw that line that says that is beyond my boundary?
SB: There is some overlap between therapy and coaching. The difference is that you want to look out for, and I am trained to look for red flags so that you are not practicing in another professional arena. So if a person comes to me for high anxiety where they are unable to come up with steps or we come up with steps together and they are not able to follow through and it happens again and again, that’s a red flag. They are not in the coaching zone. Another is if there are addictions involved, domestic violence, family behavorial patterns. All that stuff is not in my domain.
PS: Hoarding too I am sure is not in your domain?
PS: That is where I draw the line because once it steps into that it involves a level of therapy that I cannot provide. We know our boundaries well.*
SB: You have to because at that point you are not serving the client, and they really need to be matched with the right professional at that time.
PS: And it could be dangerous for our ourselves and for our clients to try to do things that we are not qualified to do. And it may lead them into a path that is truly detrimental. Thank you for bringing that up.
PS: We are beginning to run out of time, and I want to make sure you have the opportunity to talk about your “Head Trash” program because it sounds exciting. Please give us details on what this Head Trash program looks like, where and when.
SB: Sure. The whole head trash, clearing the head trash came from my own sacred secrets for owning your own voice.
PS: Sacred secrets? Oh do tell.
SB: It’s funny. It is one of the things I save for people who attend my program.
PS: Oh, so we have to attend your program?
SB: Exactly. And my “Own Your Own Voice” program is to help people, to turn inward. Reflect, access their full instrument, their body, their voice, and intuition so that they can authentically feel more like themselves and make real connection. That is what we are hungering for both personally and professionally.
PS: Yes, we all are. And where do they find out more about this? Is it on your website?
PS: Is there anything else you would like to share as we step into the new year. I know that some people experience anxiousness. They may have some trepidation, some excitement. For those who are leery about going forward, are there any tips, strategies, advice that you would like to share?
SB: Sure, in order to let go of the head trash is a journaling practice. I have been journaling over 10 years, and it really helps me dive into self-inquiry. I journal about 10-15 minutes a day. It is a way to clear my thoughts, dump everything into a book. I don’t have to think about it. And then what has been happening, because I have been doing it for so long, is that I get to separate the head trash and see what my intuition is trying to tell me.
PS: You are so busy, how in the world do you have time to set aside 15-20 minutes a day for journaling?
SB: You know, that is why I do it. Its because people come to me, I serve as a light to help them in dark times. So I have a very strong self-care practice. And journaling is part of that cornerstone.
PS: Aside from journaling is there anything else to help get people centered, motivated to step into the new year?
SB: Yes, another thing that I do is breathwork. What breathwork does it increases our focus and alertness. When that happens we are more aware, and we are more likely to make more aware choices.
PS: That is so on point with one of the messages I love to share with my clients. The more clarity we have in our head, the more clarity about what is important to us physically that we need to keep. To help us make those decisions about what we keep and what we release. It is the same with the trash in our head. What thoughts are working for us that we want to hold onto? What thoughts can we release? If there are things that we have decided are no longer working for us, we do have ways of perhaps capturing those. Say we have collections of things that are taking up too much room in our space. We can put it in a journal or we can take photographs of it or video or draw it whatever to preserve the specialness. And then we can thank it and let it go and let it leave our space. Our head space or our physical space.
Cindy, I want to thank you for stopping by and talking with me today because I know how valuable your service can be to clients and followers of mine who are struggling with that mental piece, that emotional piece that they’ve got going on in their heads. Often before we can deal with the physical, we need to address what’s going on upstairs.
Thank you so much. Any final words?
SB: Put yourself first. Again, put yourself first. It starts there.
PS: I hope that everybody has a safe, prosperous, and healthy 2019, and to you too Cindy. And for more information, you can find out all you need to know about organizing, practical tips, and strategies to get yourself organized, your home organized, or tips for getting your head organized at Stillnessblooms.com and ThePracticalSort.com.
You can also reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*You may have noticed from my blogs and photos that I have worked on hoarding projects. These have been limited to home clear-outs to expedite a move and home sale. I have not worked with clients in an on-going hoarding situation capacity.